Ukrainian hopes rest on the West as two-year war anniversary looms

People mourn over the coffins of a family killed in a fire when Russian drone hit their home in residential neighbourhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.
People mourn over the coffins of a family killed in a fire when Russian drone hit their home in residential neighbourhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. Copyright Andrii Marienko/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Andrii Marienko/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved
By Shona MurrayMared Gwyn Jones
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As the grim milestone of two years of war looms, Ukrainians tell Euronews they hope Russia's brutality and propaganda campaigns will not dent Western support to Kyiv.

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Yuliia Kanivska is a mother of one from Irpin, a commuter city that lies 20km north of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

Much of Irpin was destroyed during a month-long occupation in 2022, before it was recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

“I was very scared; we didn’t think that Russia could invade us," Yuliia told Euronews' Shona Murray.

Yuliia also worries pro-Russian propaganda could skew the reality of Ukraine's suffering and undermine Western support for the war-torn nation.

"Because a lot of my relatives live in Russia, my husband’s aunt and her children live in Russia. And now they don’t speak, they don’t communicate because they can’t believe (...) that we are under bombing and we struggle for our freedom," she explained.

"My husband sent them some photos of destroyed houses saying ‘this is our life'," she added, "and they sent back (a message saying), 'oh it's not so dangerous, it's ok'."

"It's not only in Russia. We were abroad and we met a lot of people who were pro-Russian, and they couldn't understand, they didn't believe me," Yuliia said.

She says Western governments and the NATO military alliance must continue to provide her country with the financial and military support it needs to withstand Russia's aggression, as Ukraine is fighting not only for its own freedom but for the "freedom of the whole world."

Earlier in February, EU leaders approved a landmark €50-billion aid package for Ukraine, allowing Kyiv to plug a hole in its public finances and sustain essential services such as healthcare, education, social protection and pensions.

It followed weeks of uncertainty after Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán threatened to wield his veto and block the aid.

On Tuesday, the US Senate also passed its deeply divisive bill on Ukraine aid, which would provide $60 billion (€56 billion) to Kyiv's coffers. 

But the fate of the bill is unclear as it now passes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where it faces stiff opposition. The House's Republican speaker Mike Johnson has already indicated he will block a vote on the bill.

War splits families

Dimitry, a medic, father and husband from Donetsk, affirms all of Ukraine's territory must be returned to the state, including Crimea - annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014 - and the occupied eastern region of the Donbas.

His father, who lives in Belgarod, Russia, does not share his views.

"My father thinks Ukraine has a lot of Nazis, and (that) Russia is doing right occupying Ukraine. We don’t have any conversation since 2017, and now it’s impossible," he explained.

"My father has a letter 'Z' on his car. That’s what he’s thinking about this war, he’s supporting Russia," he added.

Dimitry also says that he wants to "forget" all the "pain" he has seen since the start of the war, but says more weapons and military equipment are needed for Ukraine to take back its territory.

Military experts say the war is at a stalemate, with Putin eagerly awaiting the results of the US and EU elections before deciding on his next strategy.

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And after two years, the toll is heavy on those still fighting for their lives.

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